Newberry County, SC (WJBF) – A 22-year-old Aiken, South Carolina man has been arrested and charged in the murder of a Newberry County, South Carolina man.
Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster has announced that Michael Saheem Spears, of 222 Reid Street in Aiken, was arrested on unrelated charges Wednesday night in Aiken, and was transported to the Newberry County Detention Center Thursday where he was formally charged.an arrest has been made in the murder of Jesse O. Sanders. Spears was charged with Murder, Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, and Possession of a Firearm During A Violent Crime. Sheriff Foster said that as they identified Spears as the suspect, they learned that he was wanted by other agencies on unrelated charges. Because Spears is charged with Murder, bond will be set by a Circuit Court Judge. No date for that bond hearing has been set.
Sheriff Foster said that investigators from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and Aiken County Sheriff’s Office worked together and brought every resource available into the investigation that resulted in this arrest.
Sheriff Foster said that the investigators used technology, forensics, good old fashioned police work, and partnerships in solving the case. Foster said that the case was so difficult because they began with no suspects and little information, but through hard work they were able to identify the suspect and make the arrest.
Investigators say that it appears that Sanders and Spears met when Sanders contacted Spears, who had posted an advertisement as an escort on the social media website Backpage.com Investigators believe that robbery was the main motive for the murder.
Sheriff Foster said that cases like this should serve as a warning to people about using social media to meet unknown people.
“This is no way meant to cast dispersion upon anyone,” said Foster. “But meeting someone online is dangerous. People can pretend to be anyone online and you never know who you might really be dealing with.” “In addition, some people prey on the fact that people who have been duped or placed in compromising situations will most likely not contact the police.”
“This are very difficult investigations”, said Sheriff Foster. “Because of technology and the ease of mobility in today’s society, these investigations are getting ever more difficult. I am so proud of our agency as well as SLED, Whitmire Police Department, and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office for their extraordinary efforts in this case. This is a perfect example of how hard work, communication, and partnerships are crucial to law enforcement in today’s society.”
Spears was arrested in Aiken driving a stolen vehicle from Orangeburg and was wanted for a Probation Violation and Receiving Stolen Goods in Aiken County. He has a prior criminal history that including two Burglary convictions, Shoplifting, and Giving False Information To a Police Officer. Spears has previously served a Youthful Offender sentence in the South Carolina Department of Corrections and was on probation for one of the Burglary convictions.
Sanders’ body was seen Monday morning just after 7:00 a.m. by a passing motorist. Investigators from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and State Law Enforcement Division responded and processed that crime scene.
In the follow up that investigation, investigators believing that the possible identity of the victim was Sanders went to his residence located on Byrd Street in the Town of Whitmire. Once inside the residence, investigators discovered obvious signs of a struggle throughout the home. A thorough crime scene investigation was done by investigators from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, Whitmire Police Department and SLED.
Sheriff Foster says that it appears the incident began at the victim’s home in the Town of Whitmire and that he was taken to the location on Highway 176 against his will from his home by the Spears. It is believed that Sanders was killed at or near where he body was discovered on Highway 176.
Sheriff Foster said that the victim was shot multiple times, but refused to say how many times or where he was shot citing the integrity of the investigation. The Sheriff also said that the identity of the deceased was not released until it was confirmed forensically so that the law enforcement could be absolutely certain of the identity and notify family members prior to releasing the name to the public.
Sheriff Foster said that the arrest will not be the end of the investigation. Investigators are still seeking information that may assist with this investigation and anyone with information is asked to please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2211, www.newberrycountysheriff.com, or Crime Stoppers of the Midlands at 1-888-CRIMESC.
Sheriff Foster continued by offering condolences to the family of Mr. Sanders saying, “Mr. Sanders was the victim of a senseless violent crime. This simply did not have to happen.”
In addition Sheriff Foster thanked the public for their support and prayers throughout this investigation. “We simply cannot do this type of work with the support of the people of Newberry County and are blessed to have people praying for us and supporting us during such difficult investigations,” Foster concluded.